A marketing ploy in the 1930s introduced a very sweet, moist, orange-flesh sweet potato as a “Louisiana yam” to distinguish it from a variety grown in other states. Only problem: A true yam is from a different plant species, isn’t marketed much in the United States and isn’t as rich in vitamins A and C as sweet potatoes.
But, regardless of the name, sweet potato dishes are found on almost every Southern holiday table. For good reason. The fall and winter holiday season is also peak season for the elongated tuber, native to tropical America.
Two varieties of sweet potatoes are grown commercially in the U.S., a pale variety which after being cooked has a drier, crumbly texture, and the darker-skinned variety commonly called a “yam.”
Look for sweet potatoes with smooth, unbruised skins and store them in a dry, dark, airy and cool place for three to four weeks. Don’t refrigerate.
The versatile sweet potato can be baked, boiled, whipped and sautéed. They can be used in soups, casseroles, pies, breads and puddings.
— Cheramie Sonnier